As time passes we learn more and more about the past. Enormous inroads have been made into the study of dinosaurs and archeology, for example, and I have posted a few of them. But this one is for the history books and movies, like Désirée.
Much of this knowledge is due to our advances in technology.
NAPOLEON brought defeat at Waterloo upon himself through arrogance, blunders and the use of a faulty map, according to a documentary that has shattered the French popular view that he was a military genius.The program, broadcast by the France 3 channel, stunned Napoleon’s admirers as it debunked the conventional wisdom that he lost to the Duke of Wellington in 1815 only because of a mistake by one of his generals, the Marquis de Grouchy.
L’Ombre d’un doute (The hint of a doubt) places the responsibility for the fiasco at Napoleon’s feet, with French historian Franck Ferrand portraying the emperor as a waning and self-satisfied figure in the run-up to the battle.
It said the emperor had never recovered from a suicide attempt a year earlier, when he took a vial of opium. Napoleon’s life was saved — much to his own despair — but he never regained his strategic prowess, according to the documentary.
His failings were highlighted by the inaccurate map he used to pinpoint British troops behind Mont-Saint-Jean farm near Waterloo. The map put the farm on the left-hand side of a bend in the road, when it was on the right-hand side of a straight road. As a result, the French cannon balls fell short of the British positions.
“We realised that there was a printer’s error,” Mr Ferrand said. “The strategic tool used by the emperor in his ultimate battle was therefore false.”
He had failed to ensure that the British and Prussian positions were known before the battle, and also failed to deliver the sort of rousing speech that had lifted the morale of his troops before his victories, such as at Austerlitz.
Claims that Napoleon was diminished at Waterloo have long been made by military historians. Never, however, have they been aired on primetime television in France, where Napoleon is widely seen as the greatest military mind in history.
The emperor himself blamed the defeat on de Grouchy’s failure to prevent Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher, the Prussian field marshal, coming to Wellington’s aid.
De Grouchy, who was at the head of 34,000 men, become bogged down in a fight with the Prussian rearguard kilometres from Waterloo, enabling Blucher to march on to the main battlefield.
Napoleon later wrote that de Grouchy’s behaviour had been unpredictable, effectively absolving himself of blame.
Jon English: "Waterloo" which he wrote and recorded some years ago. An easy choice for me as I think it's a great song and tells the story well.
By Adam Sage
With thanks to The Australian
Related: Napoléon Bonaparte’s hat has sold for €1,884,000 (£1.5 million) at an auction of the French Emperor’s belongings by the Monaco royal family which plans to use the proceeds to fund palace renovations.